Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 11:07 UK

TV 'is failing new music stars'

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News at In The City, Manchester

Morrissey on Top Of The Pops
The Smiths gained exposure on Top Of The Pops and The Tube

Britain is missing out on tomorrow's music stars because TV stations have stopped putting new acts on in prime time, the culture secretary has warned.

Andy Burnham said: "We need a programme like Top of the Pops again.

"This was a great thing that was always putting a great mix of new music before the public."

Mr Burnham, speaking at music industry conference In the City in Manchester, said great acts that emerged 20 years ago may not get the same chance today.

Broadcasters must "promote and champion new music in this country, rather than having just very safe options on prime-time TV", he told executives.

Andy Burnham
That was what was great about the past - The Smiths did become a national name, even though I can remember my dad moaning about them on Top of the Pops
Andy Burnham
Culture Secretary
Talent shows like The X Factor were great, he said, but "not quite the same" as promoting artists that write their own songs.

Top of the Pops, on the other hand, was "really important for stimulating the wider interest in the wider population" when exciting new acts came along.

'Difficult place'

"I just worry a little that the relationship between prime time TV and radio and the music industry has at times become a little cosy," he told BBC News.

"It's relying on safe formats and not sufficiently putting out those new names that can then all of a sudden go from the margins right into national prominence.

"That was what was great about the past - The Smiths did become a national name, even though I can remember my dad moaning about them on Top of the Pops."

Top of the Pops was axed in 2006 after 42 years, and music TV shows are now largely confined to the post-watershed schedules.

Despite their late-night slots, though, programmes like Laterů with Jools Holland on BBC Two and Transmission on Channel 4 have become influential showcases of new and established music.

Santogold
New acts like Santogold now appear off-peak on Later or Transmission
In the City was set up by music impresario and local TV reporter Tony Wilson, who gave The Sex Pistols and The Stone Roses their TV debuts, and signed Joy Division to his record label.

Mr Burnham said he recalled seeing Wilson, who died last year, promoting new bands at the end of his regional news programme.

"Today, people perhaps have more power over their own destiny, but getting heard over the bottom rung of noise is much harder than it was 15 or 20 years ago when people were being chucked onto Granada Reports at the end of the news," he said.

"It seems to me to be a more difficult place to be.

"Perhaps what was always surprising about music, and some of the music that came out of this city, was that they could go national because of the way things were.

"Whereas I do worry very much that if we retreat into that comfort zone, that tried and tested model, they just won't break through in the same way."




SEE ALSO
Music stars unite to seek control
03 Oct 08 |  Entertainment
TOTP2 cut back as Jools expands
22 Mar 07 |  Entertainment
BBC calls time on Top of the Pops
20 Jun 06 |  Entertainment

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